Herald Journal Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, April 1, 2002

The good old days of threshing machines

By Joe Kieser

The Minneapolis threshing Machine Company started in Hopkins in 1887.

Two years later, the company began producing the first steam traction engines with the formation of the Minneapolis-Molin Power Equipment Co., Incorporated in 1929. The following story is about how this equipment was used on our local farms.

See photos (PDF)

This is the fly wheel side of the 1907 heavy-duty Minneapolis double engine. It was mounted on a high pressure, direct flue fire boy boiler, designed to burn coal, wood, or straw. It came equipped with flat spoke wheels and heavy plowing gears.

Standard items included a duplex pump injector and cylinder oil pump. This particular unit was manufactured for one year only.

The threshing machine, also produced in 1907, had a 36-inch throat, and was equipped with double feeders. The feeders were lowered and raised with a series of cables. They were positioned between the bundle stacks for ease of loading.

Water wagons were also a very necessary piece of equipment. A hand pump was used to obtain water from a stock tank, cistern, or nearby pond or creek. The hose had a screen on the end so nothing got into the tank other than water. The engine needed a steady supply of water, so this was a full-time job.

The engine man (Fred Fasching) lived west of Winsted. The engine only traveled two miles per hour, so it was a long trip to the Martin Kieser farm, northwest of Winsted.

The boiler and fire box needed to be fired for at least three hours before the machine could be moved. The steam pressure gauge needed to be at 250 psi. At night, the fire was banked with ashes and the damper was closed to maintain a few coals until morning.

The separator man (Mike Fasching) needed, first of all, to determine wind direction. Straw could not be blown into the wind for various reasons.

The concaves and sieves needed to be level, so holes were dug in the ground at various depths and the wheels driven into these holes. Several tries were usually needed before the machine were ready for operation.

Stakes were driven into the ground in front and behind each axle. This was necessary because the machine could not move when the drive belt was tightened.

He constantly walked around or stood on top of his machine during operations. Parts needed to be be greased and oiled, the half-bushel hopper watched, and a nice cone-shaped straw pile maintained. If the wind direction changed the whole ritual started all over.

The alignment of the engine to the separator was a tricky endeavor. It also needed to be level and the fly wheel kept turning when he backed up to tighten the drive belt.

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